David Griffiths has been backed to seize his unexpected t20 chance.
The Hampshire fast bowler was a surprise selection for the five-wicket Friends Life t20 success over Surrey on Wednesday as he replaced back-injury victim Dimi Mascarenhas.
With the former England all-rounder and Royals t20 skipper ruled out, many expected Hamza Riazuddin to get the nod as a similar type of bowler.
But Griffiths got the call for only his sixth t20 game in seven seasons and responded with two wickets for 23 in an impressive effort.
His t20 debut in 2007 against Essex saw him pick up three for 13, but he went round the park (one for 40) in his last domestic t20 outing against Middlesex last year.
But stand-in skipper Neil McKenzie believes the Isle of Wight-born seamer can profit from a new aggressive mentality to add to the raw pace he can generate, which often sees Griffiths clocking speeds upwards of 86mph.
McKenzie said: ‘Griff has probably got the most pace in the Hampshire squad. I know Chalks (Giles White) and Dimi are on at him about being aggressive and running in as hard as he can. He is a fast bowler for a reason.
‘But it’s nice to see the plans work that he has implemented.
‘He can take big confidence from that going forward and do well in this form of the game.
‘It wasn’t an easy decision because we know Hamza is the same type of bowler as Dimi. He has been a little bit unfortunate because he is a quality cricketer.
‘But we have that depth in the squad and that is a strength.
‘There is no moaning – everyone gets on with the job.
‘So I’m happy for a guy like David Griffiths to get a chance.
‘He put his hand up, bowled some fire and really showed what he is about.’
McKenzie is unsure whether he will be leading the side again for this evening’s trip to Essex – with Mascarenhas still having treatment.
But with Championship and 40-over skipper Jimmy Adams keen to take a break from the captaincy in the t20, McKenzie is happy to step in.
He said: ‘I’m hoping I’m not the captain but I won’t mind it if I am.
‘If Dimi is not in the side, it takes a big piece out of it.
‘But this side pretty much captains itself, so it’s quite easy.
‘I’m a better senior player these days than a captain, though.
‘With Jimmy not wanting to do the t20 stuff, I’m happy to do it.
‘He just wants to concentrate on his own form in the t20 and we all know how much county cricket we play.
‘It’s a chance for him to take a step back and take a breather to recharge the batteries and still fire with the bat.
‘He is still the captain and the leader in the 40-over and the Championship.’
McKenzie, who hit an important 37 not out in the win over Surrey, has urged the troops to make it two from two as their title defence moves on to Chelmsford tonight.
He said: ‘We didn’t make a good start last season.
‘There are a lot of quality sides out there and everybody can beat everybody, I think.
‘Going to Essex, we will take two from two if we can but we are fighting to win every game.’